Editor's Note: This piece was originally printed in "The Gospel of Love According to Juan/a" by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Nina Tomen, published by St Pauls Publishing in 2017. Rappler is publishing this piece with permission from Bishop David and St Pauls Publishing for Holy Week 2018.
My sister's daughter once made a scene that startled the churchgoers inside a church in Quezon City.
She was just about 3 years old at the time, some 16 years ago now. She practically went hysterical, such that the parish priest came out of the confessional in order to check what the commotion was about.
My sister was so embarrassed because the child was crying inconsolably, refusing to get out of the church unless her mother did something to "get Jesus down from the cross and bring him to the hospital."
Here's how it happened. My sister decided one day to drop by the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City to pray. She had brought along her 3-year-old daughter.
It was the little girl's first time to visit this church. She happened to be right at that age when kids turn inquisitive and begin to pester their parents with endless questions about most anything.
"Mama…who is that?" she asked, pointing her finger at the image of the Crucified Christ. She had to ask the question a second time, tugging at her mama's skirt to get her attention.
My sister was clutching her rosary with one hand and her bag with the other. Her eyes were shut as she mumbled her Hail Marys and fingered through the beads. "Huh, who?" she said as she turned her attention toward her daughter.
She was facing a smaller image of the Blessed Mother, but her daughter's big eyes were focused instead on the life-sized Jesus hanging on the cross in the background. "That's Jesus Christ, anak (child). You pray to him," she said to her.
The image apparently had seemed so lifelike to the little girl. "Mama, why is Jesus bleeding? Kawawa naman siya (How pitiful he is)!" she asked frantically.
My sister hushed her and continued to pray her rosary, but the child was persistent. She was visibly agitated by what she was seeing. Now she was asking not just why Jesus was bleeding, but also why he was hanging up there on the cross.
My sister said, "Not too loud, anak; your mama is praying. He's bleeding because some mean people beat him up and hurt him really bad and hung him up there to punish him."
Now the child became even more distraught. Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she verbalized her indignation about how bad those people who had beaten up Jesus were.
She said Jesus looked so pitiful and that he might need a doctor. "Mama, please let's bring Jesus to the hospital where you brought my kuya (elder brother) when he had an accident."
She remembered how her mother reacted in panic when her older brother fell from his bicycle, got badly wounded on his forehead, and profusely bled.
My sister lifted her daughter in her arms and assured her that Jesus was going to be okay. The little girl couldn't be consoled, so my sister started to walk out of the church in order to keep her daughter from causing any further disturbance.
She cried out more loudly, refusing to leave the church. She spoke adamantly, and said, "Mama, please, let's help Jesus. Let's bring him down; let's bring him to the doctor." That was when the priest stepped out of the confessional and approached my sister and asked if anything was the matter.
My sister turned to pay her respects to the priest. She took his hand and pressed it on her forehead to get a blessing while her little girl continued to wail out loud.
"I am sorry that we distracted you, Father. This is my 3-year-old daughter. She was looking at the crucifix and then started asking me to do something to get Jesus down from the cross and bring him to the hospital. She is concerned that Jesus is bleeding and badly hurt. Would you please help me explain to my little girl that she's just looking at a wooden statue, Father?"
The priest smiled, held up the child's face by the chin, and wiped away her tears. He said: "How blessed you are, my little girl, to care so much for Jesus. He's up there on the cross because He loves you. Don't worry about him. I will get some medicine for his wounds. It is okay now, my child. I'll tell him you asked me to look after Him."
She was still whimpering as she glanced up at the crucifix, but the priest's words somehow calmed her down. My sister smiled gratefully at the priest and then told her daughter, "We'll go now, anak. Say thank you to Father and ask for a blessing from him." She dutifully took the priest's hand and pressed it on her forehead and said, "Thank you, Father."
"Bye-bye, little girl. Jesus is going to be okay now, I promise," the priest said as he waved goodbye at my sister's daughter, who kept her tearful eyes fixed on the Crucified Jesus as her mother took her out of the church. – Rappler.com